Blogger Meet Up & Connected Educators

What does it mean to be a Connected Educator?
When I began my teaching career a few short years ago, I never would have imagined having such an expansive network of people that I consider colleagues and friends.  During my undergraduate studies, we used the Internet to collaborate with each other.  We also developed projects and presentations using various software programs.  As I completed my graduate program, I was required to set up a blog and use certain web 2.0 tools.  What I found interesting was that I wasn't allowed to choose the host for my site.  We all were required to follow a rigid set of guidelines that were actually rules, not guides.  Each rule was assigned a point value.  Each blog in our class looked like a replica of every one's site.  There was no room for creativity - only control.  Perhaps this was because much of the Internet was unknown.  Perhaps I should have felt lucky that I was even allowed to do these sorts of tasks years ago.

I can't stand by the idea that control should ever trump creativity.  This is why I'm so happy to have the liberty to connect with the people I decide to include in my network, create projects that are of interest to me, and write posts that I determine are worthy of writing.  I'm no longer bound by a rigid point system that only awards gold stars for following directions rather than thinking critically or failing miserably but learning immensely. 

After overcoming my fear of Twitter, I've grown to rely on the tool almost to the point of being dependent on the resource to shape who I am as an educator.  It's not the tool that helps shape who I am; it's the way the tool is utilized and who I connect with that make it an invaluable resource.

People always ask me how Twitter can be such a powerful tool.  Once recent example includes a conversation I had with my friend, Michelle.  We were discussing how great it was that our friend, Summer, was going to join Michelle at her school, Anastasis.   I was quite interested in finding out more because I've followed Anastasis Academy since it's beginning.  Blogging mentor to many and #edtech pioneer, Kelly Tenkely, started this school.  As Michelle and I continued our conversation over Twitter, many other people began to add questions and thoughts to our conversation.  We mentioned that we should Skype one day to further the dialogue.  Well, that comment added a few more friends in our PLN, personal learning network, to the conversation.  It was decided that since so many were interested in hearing about the philosophy of Anastasis and what it was like to teach at this amazing institution, we should all Hangout on Google.  Within hours, we had a time coordinated that all ten of us could meet.  Two days later, we all joined each other's company in a Google Hangout to continue the conversation.  It was insightful to say the least!  What was meant to last 20 - 40 minutes lasted nearly two hours.  It was a wonderful experience talking with everyone.  Truly, we were among friends discussing our passions, sharing our concerns, and celebrating our successes.  

Yesterday I traveled an hour down the road to meet a group of teachers and bloggers for the Michigan Meet Up. About a month ago, Maria decided we should host this event for any teacher or blogger in Michigan that was interested and available.  We had people from all over the state join us for coffee.  It's always a pleasure meeting the faces behind the blogs you follow.  There truly are people behind the networks.  It's such a joy to connect in person!

{click here to read more about Connected Edu Month} 


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